COLLEGE STATION – After a year plagued by hurricanes, wildfires, floods, mass shootings and a volcanic eruption, communities and families nationwide are facing a long road to disaster recovery, which can take months or years.
To help communities navigate the rough seas of the disaster recovery process, the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) has rolled out a free online course, Disaster Recovery Awareness. The course is designed to introduce the key elements involved in disaster recovery, from developing a recovery plan to finding disaster assistance resources.
The impetus to develop disaster recovery training came on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which wreaked havoc on the Texas Gulf Coast in 2017. Disaster Recovery Awareness is the first in a series of courses devoted to providing communities a roadmap to recovery, helping them to bounce back from a disaster and become more resilient.
“Working in devastated communities like Rockport and Aransas County, with the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas, made us realize that many city and county officials need support and tools to help them get through the recovery phase of a disaster,” said Tony Crites, Associate Division Director with TEEX’s Infrastructure Training and Safety Institute.
“With TEEX’s expertise in emergency preparedness and response and our experience working with federal agencies like FEMA, we realized we could offer training to help communities build resilience and recover from the next disaster. We knew we could provide some tools and templates to help them get started in the recovery process.”
Developing and implementing a successful recovery strategy is a critical function of disaster management, he added. “The disaster didn’t end when Hurricane Harvey left the state — the recovery phase was just beginning, and it is still going on. It is vital that jurisdictions know where to find recovery guidance, how to plan for and manage recovery operations, and what public assistance is available to the community and how to access it.”
The disaster recovery training is aimed at community leaders and emergency management personnel, public works employees, fire and public safety officers, community planners and economic development organizations, health and human services, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), public-private partnerships (P3s) and/or private sector organizations that support recovery and economic development.
In addition to the online Disaster Recovery Awareness course, other face-to-face courses will address Disaster Recovery for Senior Officials and an Introduction to Disaster Recovery Pubic Assistance Programs. The courses are offered in partnership with TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center. All courses align with the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD)-8 on National Preparedness and follow the key elements of the National Disaster